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Ndong was Barça's best player against Zaragoza / PHOTO: ARXIU FCB

CAI Zaragoza is one of the teams that are fighting to get into the top eight playoff spots of the Liga Endesa table. The team managed by José Luis Abós had only lost three matches at home this season, against Lagun Aro, Real Madrid and Gescrap Bizcaia. Furthermore, they hadn’t lost in three months on their court. Until this Sunday. Xavi Pascual’s men made short work of the Zaragoza side as the Catalans racked up their seventh consecutive victory - four in the Liga Endesa and three in the Euroleague. Barça Regal continue to sit atop of the table with a balance of 23 victories and 3 defeats.

Barça Regal, with a new starting five, came out onto the court with one goal in mind: to win the match. Boniface Ndong, who is on form, was one of the most dangerous men at the start of the game with seven points and five rebounds in the first seven minutes. Ingles was the man in charge of creating the plays for his teammates and the Barça defence left CAI with only 13 points scored at the end of the first quarter. Only Fontet and Rhodes, who made his debut for the Aragón side this weekend, were up to the task of facing Barça (13-18).

CAI take the lead

A three pointer from Van Rossom and another from Navarro kicked off the second quarter. However, both teams’ conversion percentages went down. The Azulgranas were not able to consolidate their lead and CAI started to feel more comfortable on the court, with the support of 9,400 supporters urging them on. A counterattack led by Cabezas finished off a 8-0 run for CAI, who took the lead for the first time (24-23). Xavi Pascual’s men reacted. Ndong came back out onto the court and scored four consecutive points and Marcelinho sunk a three pointer with seconds to go to the end of the second quarter (24-30).

Lorbek goes on the attack

At the start of the second half, Barça’s other pivots got into the match. A basket from Vázquez and five consecutive points from Lorbek gave Barça their maximum lead of 24-37. Abós was forced to call timeout in an attempt to spur him men into action. Stefansson broke Barça’s 0-14 run soon after. The Iceland national was a lifeline for his team, he scored 9 of CAI’s 14 points in the third quarter. Marcelinho closed out the third quarter with a two-pointer (38-49).

Barça puts the game beyond reach

Barça faced the final 10 minutes of the match with the objective of putting the game beyond reach as soon as possible. A basket from Rabaseda put the Azulgranas at a 13-point distance from the home team. Wright, who wasn’t having the best of nights, continued to attempt three-point shots. Xavi Pascula’s men shored up their defence with the scoreboard reading 44-64 with two minutes to go in the game. The game ended with a Barça victory (49-68).

The team showed their quality in Zaragoza this Sunday, without Pete Mickeal, who is injured. There are only six league matches left to be played in the ACB, Barça have shown that they want to finish the regular season at the top of the table.

MATCH STATS

CAI Saragossa, 49
FC Barcelona Regal, 68

CAI Saragossa (13+11+14+11): Cabezas (6), Stefansson (13), Wright (5), Hettsheimeir (2) i Fontet (7) -starting five- Van Rossom (5), Toppert, Rhodes (11), Archibald and Almazán.

Barça Regal (18+12+19+19): Huertas (5), Eidson (6), Ingles (7), Wallace (4) i Ndong (17) -starting five- Sada (3), Navarro (5), Perovic, Vázquez (4), Rabaseda (8) and Lorbek (9).

Referees: Mitjana, Conde and Sánchez Monserrat.


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